The D-Day. The Decison day. You knew it was coming. You knew you would have to speak up at some point. You knew you would have to bargain, argue and persuade. You dreaded the moment you would have to say, “Wait a minute, this is not in my interest at all!” Boom. There you are. One of the most crucial (business) meetings ever. Or perhaps not ever, but a pretty important one anyway. What are the steps you should care not to make and what are the world you shall never utter?
Deadly sin #1: Showing up late. The same old story you might hear from all directions, yet so vital and so often neglected. Not only that you do not look professional when you are unable to plan your schedule, but you are also being impolite from the very first moment – even before you actually bother to show up.
Deadly sin #2: Being physically present, yet not mentally. Sure, you have all those cool and shiny gadgets and like to show off with them, but it is extremely rude to answer e-mails or check your Facebook whilst in the middle of discussion. Not to mention that you are much more likely to miss an important point of the debate. If you feel the urge to do so, get help.
Deadly sin #3: Not listening. The words your partner says enter your left ear and exit though your nose or the left ear without leaving a trace. You think you are listening, you may be even looking straight into the other person´s eyes, but if you got a simple question along the lines of “What did I just say?”, you would be left dumbfounded.
Deadly sin #4: Speaking for somebody not present who has never given such permission. Even though you think you know what your colleague wants or would have liked to said, do not say it aloud. Chances are, you are wrong – and even if you were right, your colleague would have preffered to speak up for himself/herself. You are not a fortune teller, so do not pretend to be one.
Deadly sin #5: Not being prepared. If you really want to persuade someone about the benefits of your proposal, you cannot expect to be able to do so without thinking hard. There is nothing worse than wasting time with someone who needs ages to express himself/herself and does not know precisely where all the arguments (s)he uses are headed.
Deadly sin #6: Not making notes. During a (hopefully fruitful) discussion you and your partner are likely to come up with unexpected and possibly smart points that should not be forgotten. You do not have to write essays, a short note will do; and may prove invaluable the next month when you are analysing why that particular project failed. Perhaps you were somewhat aware of future difficulties, but just because they came up only in the discussion, they got lost.
Deadly sin #7: Repetition. Do not repeat yourself over and over again. Your negatiation partner is not stupid and has heard the same story twice already. He/She is not buying your arguments, deal with it. Either come up with something new – be it new evidence, example or a whole new argument, or rethink your position. Pretending to be a CD playing the same track over and over again does not deliver results. On the contrary – it just annoys people.
A personal note: Today, my negotiation partner commited 3 out of these sins. So what? He lost on all fronts in 20 minutes´ time. Morals? Thou shall not negotiate, sinner!